In recent years, amid the ongoing climate crisis, the government have placed increasing restrictions on car usage. The newest form of legislation is the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone), designed to reduce car pollution in widespread areas of England’s major cities. The ULEZ restrictions see ‘driving charges’ administered to vehicles which fail to pass minimum exhaust emission standards. Naturally, this has led owners of beloved classic cars to worry, posing the question: what do these restrictions mean for classic vehicles?

It’s not all bad news, thanks to campaigns lobbied by Classic & Sports Car and the Federation of British Historic Motor Vehicle Clubs, all cars registered before the 1981 mark will be exempt from charges. That means vehicles like the stunning 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider (pictured above) will be able to stay on the road for no extra cost (aside from existing congestion charges).  However, classics from the 80s, 90s and early noughties will not be granted exemption; meaning we could see many of these cherished vehicles taken off the road in the coming months.

ULEZ was initially introduced in London in April of 2019, and as of June 2021 restrictions now also apply in Birmingham. It has been reported that four other cities will also pass these laws in the future: Nottingham, Leeds, Derby and Southampton. From October 2021, the ULEZ zone in London will cover the entire area between the A406 North Circular Road to the A1020 and A205 South Circular Road. You will be liable to pay the fees (a daily charge of £12.50) if your vehicle fails to meet European exhaust emissions standards. To check whether your car meets these standards, click here.

Sell My Classic spoke to Darren Sullivan Vince, founder of Waterloo Classics, a classic car club located in the centre of London. He told us that after ULEZ was introduced, the club lost around 30% of participation almost immediately. Whilst most members of Waterloo Classics drive pre-1981 vehicles, Sullivan Vince expressed his concern that the new legislation would exclude those passionate about newer classics, like the Peugeot 205 GTI. ‘It will be sad to see a huge chunk of cars missing’, says Sullivan Vince, who has further had to re-evaluate where the club will meet, hoping to establish base somewhere outside of restrictions.

Luckily, Sullivan Vince, who drives a lovely 1961 BMW 502, has some innovative ideas on how to adapt to the new circumstances. He told us that some of the members of Waterloo Classics have taken matters into their own hands and left notes on classic cars offering to buy and rehome them. He has also been in contact with the government about renting out garage spaces to store classics outside ULEZ zones so club members can evade the charge. Despite concerns about the risk to newer classics, Sullivan Vince supports the legislation, and is confident that his club will continue to run and adjust to the new circumstances.

There is no denying that due to changing engine regulations, running a classic vehicle is becoming more and more expensive and difficult. New legislation to be introduced later this year issues that E10 petrol will become the standard grade. This contains around 10% of ethanol, which could be lethal for classic engines. As a result of increasing restrictions, Sell My Classic has helped sell a number of classics which have become too expensive to run. You can find out more about ULEZ restrictions and how they will apply here. If you are considering selling your beloved classic, we would love to help. Visit us at

What is your view on the ULEZ restrictions? Let us know in the comments below.